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Is It Ever OK to Organize Group Interviews?

Posted by Chris Fields

group interviews

Can you name all the different interview styles? There’s the phone interview, the video interview, the face-to-face interview, the one-on-one interview, the panel interview, the serial one-on-one interview, the lunch interview, the presentation interview, and the group interview.

Of all of these interview styles, the group interview is the worst. From both sides of the coin it’s the most complicated and ineffective interview style, according to a recent article by Terri Lee Ryan on her blog, Get Employed!. Applicants hate them and interviewers are often dumfounded afterwards, which is why they aren’t used very often.

Group interviews make candidates feel as if they are part of a “cattle call.” If you aren’t familiar with the term, cattle calls are when a herd of cattle are wrangled or led into a barn, pasture, or farm to be fed, washed, branded, or even slaughtered. No one wants to be part of a cattle call, with such negative connotations; and when it comes to conducting them, there are more cons than pros.

There are only two scenarios in which conducting a group interview could make sense. One is if you’re hiring a large volume of “warm bodies” to work in a warehouse, call center, or for the busy season at a major retailer. If you need a lot of people, really quickly, to fill a bunch of open jobs and their skill level is not a high priority, then the group interview is fine.

The second scenario is if you have one position available in a highly competitive market in a very fast-paced organization. By group interviewing two or more candidates for one open position, you can probably help determine who has the most confidence, thinks fastest, and is neither afraid of nor intimidated by competition.

Recruiting today is more and more about relationship building. Group interviews make it a lot harder for employers to relate to or connect with candidates on an individual level. Interviewees expect privacy because the process is already very personal and stressful, and they may be feeling vulnerable. In most cases, the interviewee is nervous and somewhat afraid of being judged and rejected. If you add multiple people to the process, it only increases their anxiety. Job seekers are less likely to be honest and share their career setbacks, weaknesses, and failures with a group of people versus one on one.

The candidate experience (which includes the application process, the interview, and the notification process) is critical to job retention and job satisfaction numbers. And since transparency is an important part of the modern process, if potential talent is not comfortable during the interview, they will simply find a better fit.

There should be a purpose to your interview style, and you should choose the approach that best achieves your hiring goals. In most cases, the goal is to find the best fit: the most talented and loyal employee possible. So even if you need to conduct a mass hiring process, there is a better way to screen versus the cattle call or group interview. One of the most underutilized screening tools is pre-employment assessments.

Pre-employment assessment testing has evolved right along with recruiting and talent management. No longer are pre-employment tests long, drawn-out, and time consuming affairs. They are now fully customizable to fit the brand and culture of each company.

These tests can help you evaluate an applicant’s skill level and personality, based on a set of criteria that you create. It works because candidates are more comfortable answering questions separately and privately, versus out in the open in a group interview setting. And you, the interviewer, can focus your attention on each potential new associate instead of the herd.

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About Chris Fields

Author

Chris Fields is an HR professional and expert resume writer with more than 13 years of experience as a former practitioner and current HR consultant. He is the curator of two websites: CostofWork.com and ResumeCrusade.com, and contributes HR-focused content to many others, including PerformanceICreate.com, eSkill.com and SmartRecruiters.com.

5 COMMENTS Join the discussion
  • Alison L. June, 08, 2015

    As it was mentioned in the article, group interviews work only when you have to hire for a position where qualifications and personal qualities don’t matter much. Thus, you can quickly pick a bunch of people who seem to be more or less fit for the given position. I don’t know of any other instance where group interviews actually work.

  • Mary L. June, 10, 2015

    The only good thing about group interviews is that you can see more vividly how the candidates behave in very stressful situations and how they react to competition. If these are the qualities you want to check, then you can try to conduct a group interview.

  • Lauren P. June, 11, 2015

    Group interviews are a waste of time. Candidates are usually less open in communication and tend to be shy to share their weaknesses or failures or vice versa. They show off and boast their experiences. Anyway, it looks like a total mess, and your intention to make the hiring a faster process goes awry, and all you can say – we tried our best, you know the rest!

  • Stephana P. June, 15, 2015

    I don’t like this type of interview for a variety of reasons, but the worst is that it doesn’t meet the final goal, which, as I understand, is finding the best candidate quickly and qualitatively. So from my point of view, it’s not worth your effort.

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Guest June, 16, 2015